Thousands of Barbadians now enjoying a “free” education at the University of the West Indies should enjoy it while it lasts.
The time is fast coming when they might “have to pay something”, Minister of Education, Ronald Jones, said today. He told the start on Associate Degree in Education course at the Erdiston Teacher’s Training College this morning that “severe challenges” now facing the island, including “extremely low productivity”, necessitated such a change.
“We might have to say to people who want to go into university education ‘you are going to have to pay something now’. It’s coming! I am not going to pretend that it is not coming because we have failed the future,” he said.
“We went and we benefitted, pay a few cents on a little registration fee and a little caution money and then we failed the future and therefore we have now placed a burden on the future because we didn’t step up to the plate, we simply took and took and took. Jones said the island’s challenges were not going to change overnight and would not change at all “unless we change them, unless we take the decision to make a difference”.
“(One of the challenges [is] extremely low productivity in Barbados,” Jones said. “When you look at our productivity profile, Barbados is way, way down and because of that very low productivity profile we are going to have to change some things.”
The minister said there were people who had taken for granted the fact that in some instances the state paid for first and second degrees, and even doctorates.
“The point I am trying to make is that this country over time has made an absolute commitment to its citizens and sometimes that commitment is not reflected in duty and I want to explain what I call duty, particularly for teachers and leaders in our classrooms,” the said.
“Duty means that focus in making a difference in the lives of the people you come in contact with, in changing that boy or girl that is before you, in changing that adult even that is before you, in giving of your optimum to those, in following the laws and the rules and in making that definitive commitment to children. Saying his comments were not directed at teachers present this morning, the official said “future generations will have to pay because we have failed”.
“We walked away with our scrolls, we didn’t thank anybody, we didn’t thank our fore parents. We have failed the future so many of your children have to … take out educational insurances — the day has come.
“You cannot postpone reality, reality constantly stares you in the face. If we had worked more, committed more, if we were more productive we wouldn’t have to be doing that. If we were less selfish we wouldn’t have to be doing that,” he stated.
“But the reality has now caught up with us as a nation as it has caught up with so many others and therefore all of you here who are beneficiaries of that regime of the past, which is still trickling now, have a duty (to) come to class.” (SC)